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Three bands audition their way to Mariposa Folk Festival

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

When Samantha Martin heard her band's name announced as one of the chosen ones to perform at this summer's Mariposa Folk Festival she couldn't contain her excitement and erupted in screams of joy.

"I'm ecstatic. This is great," she said. "It makes me so happy that at this point in time everything that I've worked so hard for is being recognized."

Samantha Martin and The Haggard was among nine groups who took to the stage for the Mariposa Showcase auditions to compete for three spots in the July festival.

"Festivals like this are really hard to get into," Martin said. "I'm not necessarily folk, so I wasn't sure if I was going to be received in a very prestigious folk festival, so I'm so excited."

Martin is looking forward to performing in the same event as some of her favourite artists.

"I've seen the line-up of people who have been chosen through regular submission and it's fantastic," she said. "I've seen so many people's names who I recognize and I went out and bought their CD."

Those who attended the free festival try-outs on Sunday held in the Best Western Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre, each cast one vote. Mariposa Folk Foundation members could cast two votes, but the final decision was up to a small jury of local music fans.

Along with Samantha Martin and The Haggard, Ariana Gillis and Patrick Brealey were selected to perform in the festival.

Since Brealey moved to Toronto a year ago, the Orillia folk festival has been his target.

"I've been hearing about Mariposa since I got here," he said. "I think it's going to be a great weekend of music."

Brealey said he is excited to perform in a folk festival.

"The folk festival circuit is a new thing for me and it's the direction I want to go, it just took me awhile to realize that."

The auditions are like unearthing a buried treasure chest, said Amy Mangan, artistic liaison with the festival.

"It's absolutely incredible," she said. "It's... very difficult just choosing three."

The jury based their choice on how performers interacted with the audience, how quickly they set up and took down equipment and if they played without a sound check, Mangan said.

"Basically playing the way they play at the festival," she said.

Other Mariposa Folk Festival hopefuls who took to the stage were: Mike Celia, Three Penny Opus, Sean Pinchin, The Saltcoats, Curtain Alley and The Doug Trucker Band.

These nine finalists were selected by a jury out of nearly 200 performers vying for a spot in the annual festival.

Submissions came "from as far as New York, Los Angeles, Sudbury; there's a lot from Orillia. We even had one from New Zealand," Mangan said.

Mariposa Showcase is proud to boast about the history it has with performers, she said.

"We have had Dala come through showcase and The Undesirables. They're two really popular bands right now, as well as Serena Ryder. She won a Juno last year and Old Man Ludecke, who is a fantastic banjo player; he just won a Juno," Mangan said. "We have seen quite a few fantastic performers pass through. If Mariposa can help them elevate their career to another plateau, that is exactly what we are trying to do."

The Mariposa Folk Festival takes place July 3, 4, 5, in Tudhope Park.

For more information visit,or call 326-3655.

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